District Equity Update

Defining Equity in Shorewood Schools

Over the last three weeks, Superintendent Bryan Davis has been working with student and staff groups to craft definitions of what equity means in Shorewood Schools, and has been conversing with community members to acquire a definition of what equity means to them. The goal is that once these definitions of equity are created by students, staff, and the community, there will be a joint meeting in August—with representatives from each group present—to synthesize the three definitions and create one common definition of equity for the District.

This common definition will help our students, staff and community members be on the same page when talking about equity in our schools and allow us all to work together to name and work on some tangible action steps.

Equity-Related Staff Professional Development Opportunities

1) Book Study Group through Closing the Achievement Gap Consortium (CTAGC)

The book study group was a sub-committee of the CTAGC and Shorewood Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Tim Joynt, ran the committee. Participants (including staff from other Milwaukee-area schools) read the book, Despite the Best Intentions: How Racial Inequality Thrives in Good Schools and convened in Shorewood for four book sessions, one each quarter. Each session was facilitated by either book author Dr. John B. Diamond or his coworker Dr. Beth Giles, Director of Education Outreach and Partnership at UW-Madison.

The first session, led by Dr. Diamond, was entitled “Race & Expectations: How They Matter in Education” and was a foundational discussion around some of the reasons race and equity matter in Milwaukee. The second session, led by Dr. Giles and titled “Equity at the Forefront,” gave participants the chance to walk through their school and school day, and notice where inequities lie in the school and what inequity looks like in the school. The third session, titled “Making Community Your Equity Partner,” focused on key readings from Gloria Ladson-Billings, a UW-Madison faculty member known for her work in the fields of culturally relevant pedagogy and critical race theory. The final session was an open session, during which the participants focused on what they learned this year, and what they can translate into change for next year.

2) Article Reads and Discussions with Dr. Erin Winkler

This professional development opportunity was geared towards elementary education and was led by Dr. Erin Winkler, published writer and speaker on racial and cultural identity from UW-Milwaukee. Dr. Winkler provided four sessions, which took place at both Atwater and Lake Bluff, and participants focused their discussions on various articles and book chapters related to equity. The first two sessions focused on Claude Steele’s Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do (Issues of Our Time). Session one was titled “Racial Identity Development and How It Plays Out at Schools” and session two was “Stereotype Threat and Possible Solutions.” Session three, titled “ Racial instruction and Racial Cues,” consisted of a walking tour during which Dr. Winkler walked through classrooms at Lake Bluff Elementary, and helped teachers identify and discuss any racial cues the group picked up on. The final session was an opportunity for participants to share any questions or comments they had. The discussion mainly revolved around the debriefing of an article by Paul Gorski titled Avoiding Racial Equity Detours.

3) Action Research Class Led By Dr. Beth Giles

Shorewood ran this pilot class with the help of Dr. Giles. This class provided Shorewood teachers with an action research experience that could be in lieu of student learning outcomes that teachers create as part of educator evaluation system. Shorewood teachers earned three credits through UW-Madison for taking this course.

Each month, the 13 Shorewood teacher participants met to discuss action research and teaching practices through the lens of equity. The teachers each selected a topic related to equity in their classroom, and focused on collecting and discussing data, modifying their actions, and coming to a conclusion. Final presentations for the action research class will be held inside the Wisconsin Idea Room at the UW-Madison Education Building on June 14, 9am-12pm.

Joynt shared at the May 28th School Board Meeting, that feedback from participating teachers was positive and that the consensus was the class was powerful and advantageous. He plans to work with Dr. Giles to see how the District can continue to provide and grow this program in the future.

You can view the entire District Equity Update from the May 28th School Board Meeting below (1:57:00-2:30:00).